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Title: Infinite Diversity

Series: Enterprise!

Author: Starbaby

Contact: MEGDENTON@prodigy.net

Archive: Yes, kiddies, just let me know where.

Summary: A short missing scene from "The Andorian Incident." Takes place just before Archer gets dragged back into the room after the second interrogation. I wondered what Trip and T'Pol talked about while he was getting knocked around.

Disclaimer: Engine Boy and Logic Girl will, sadly, never be mine.

Infinite Diversity

By Starbaby

T'Pol watched him in silence.

There was a gray, nebulous area between their natures, a middle ground occupied by slightly calmer, more sensible people like Captain Archer, Lieutenant Reed and even Hoshi Sato, a human appropriately terrified of strange, new worlds. Their presence mediated and offset the tension that crackled between introvert and extrovert, two individuals occupying opposite points on the emotional spectrum. But, in the silence of the Vulcan sanctuary, with only the disapproving monks as reference points, the extreme disparity of their constitutions was striking and obvious. While T'Pol sat quietly, in neither comfort nor distress, Commander Tucker indulged in a human ritual that was both unproductive and distracting.

He fidgeted.

From the moment the suspicious Andorians dragged Captain Archer off for a second interrogation, until he tired himself out, Mr. Tucker proceeded to break every Vulcan etiquette rule she'd set out before disembarking.

He did not maintain a respectful silence, but chattered incessantly, and tried to engage the monks in inane conversation.

"So," he asked at one point, "What do you fellas do for fun around here?" Followed by, "You boys ever play charades?"

He did not refrain from handling the relics, but picked them up, examined their bases, thumped their sides, and set them down with little delicacy. He paced from one end of the room to the other, peering into corners, tapping walls and kicking support pillars in frustration. He was a blur of motion and a splash of sound in the opaque stillness.

"Commander," she said sharply, "Your agitation is adding tension to an already volatile situation."

He rolled his eyes in her direction, a gesture that was becoming uncomfortably familiar. "What do you want me to do? Meditate?"

She arched a delicate eyebrow, well aware that the gesture irritated him. "Nothing as reasonable as that."

Finally, he threw himself down beside her, sprawling in an oddly graceful heap, the same position he'd been in the first time she saw him, in Captain Archer's ready room.

"They could be killing him!" Tucker gestured to emphasize his point, waving toward the distant rise and fall of voices. With her enhanced skills of observation, T'Pol had never taken note of his hands. They were large and square-shaped, a builder's hands. She approved.

"Captain Archer is unlikely to expire from a mere beating." She had no doubt that was what was occurring. Andorians were extremely violent.

Tucker just stared at her. She stared back, unflinching.

"You just don't get it. He's my friend!" He leaned toward her, his lazy voice uncharacteristically low. She had to lean forward to hear him. "Do Vulcans have friends?"

Suddenly, T'Pol became aware of her position. She was in the middle of a hostage situation, sitting in a desecrated sanctuary, almost nose to nose with the most immature member of a frantic crew. The monks were eyeing her strangely and the distant thump of Captain Archer's body hitting the floor made it all rather surreal. She straightened quickly, backing safely away before answering.

"We have…acquaintances."

"Oh." She was familiar with his myriad of expressions. There was the look of amusement when she attempted to chop her breadstick; the look of outraged innocence when she suspected him of cavorting with a Zyrillian female; the look of stubborn loyalty when she wanted to end the mission prematurely. In the pale light of the monastery, he wore the look of puzzled curiosity, the one usually produced by an engineering puzzle.

"Do you think we'll ever be…acquaintances?"

Her first inclination was to tell him no, to repeat the mantra drilled into her since childhood. That was when she first learned that humans were a young, untried race, useful to an extent, but not equal intellectually.

She thought to dash his hopes, but other teachings came back to her, lessons baked into her beneath a Vulcan sun: the logic of honesty, the beauty of truth. And then there was her secret shame, the common element T'Pol detected when she touched her mind to his, a brief and clandestine violation that haunted her. He was an excitable creature, born in a lush land of storms. She was a child of the desert, a sere, windswept delta watered only by a thin river of souls. Her people were long-lived. His died young. But there was one common thread that tied his life to hers, and that was loyalty. Hers was born of duty, his out of that foreign, human emotion love. Their motivations differed, but the outcome was the same. Their fates, as humans would say, were bound up with that of Jonathan Archer.

She gave him what her nature allowed, because he was a foolish, brave man.

"I know you, " she said simply.

He smiled slightly, and moved back against one of the pillars he'd abused earlier. His eyes drifted shut. T'Pol remained in place, and soon one of the monks knelt before her.

"How long have you been on the Earth ship?" The question was asked with pity.

"Nine weeks and four days," she answered quietly.

The monk shook his graying head. "The smell must be intolerable."

She answered without thought, realizing too late how very human--how very Commander Tucker--she sounded.

"You get used to it."

And, strangely enough, she was.

FINIS